On Thursday the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) announced its inaugural Team Academic Excellence Awards, which are given out to programs at the Division I, II and III levels of both the NCAA and NAIA that have posted a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher.
Twenty-one Division I programs were honored, including Belmont, Bucknell, Stanford and Texas.
Also on the list are rivals Kentucky and Louisville, with the Wildcats posting a team GPA of 3.23 and having 12 players who finished the year with a GPA of at least 3.0.
Twelve UK players accumulated a 3.0 GPA or higher in the spring semester including Twany Beckham and Jarrod Polson who were honored individually by the NABC for academic excellence.
Under coach John Calipari, the Wildcats have tallied a 3.0 or higher cumulative team GPA during the spring semester in each of the last three seasons including during the 2012 National Championship run.
As for the national champion Cardinals, they finished the 2012-13 academic year with a team GPA of 3.295. Rick Pitino’s program won the Big East’s Conference Team Academic Excellence Award in both 2011 and 2012, with the 2013 winners yet to be announced.
Louisville received an NCAA Public Recognition Award in 2013 for ranking among the top ten percent in men’s basketball in the Academic Progress Rate, which measures academic eligibility, retention and graduation for student-athletes.
The academic achievement is not new to the Cardinals. UofL’s men’s basketball team earned the 2010-11 and 2011-12 BIG EAST Conference Team Academic Excellence Awards, which recognizes the highest collective grade-point averages in each of the conference’s 23 sports (2012-13 awards have not been announced yet). The men’s basketball team has hovered around a collective 3.0 GPA for 10 straight semesters, including a 3.18 GPA for the most recent spring 2013 semester.
The 21 NCAA Division I schools to be honored by the NABC are: American, Belmont, Bucknell, The Citadel, Denver, Eastern Washington, Indiana State, Kentucky, UL Monroe, Louisville, Mercer, Rice, South Dakota State, Southern Utah, Stanford, Texas, Texas Tech, Utah, Western Michigan, William & Mary and Youngstown State.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.